Despite our careful analysis and prognostications, Fernando Alonso did not win the Spanish GP in Barcelona Sunday. We were wrong. We were right that Lewis Hamilton did not win, but his partner Nico Rosberg did. A plastic sheet from Alonso’s visor was the culprit.
Dejected Fernando Alonso leaves track.
Tear-offs are sheets of clear plastic worn over the helmet visor to be removed when they become too dirty from track debris for drivers to see. Drivers wear multiple tear-offs, discarding them during the race. As McLaren *luck* would have it, Alonso’s tear-off got caught by air flowing over his car and ended up in the rear brake duct.
Result? His rear brake system overheated and then failed completely. The loss of braking caused Alonso to overshoot the pit and a front-jack man barely avoided getting hit in the privates.
Alonso had run as high as seventh in Sunday’s race, and thought he might bring McLaren their first points of the season. But alas, Murphy’s Law took over.
Vettel came in third for Ferrari, in a car that had virtually every aerodynamic surface replaced in the 4 weeks since Bahrain. While his car was thoroughly upgraded, Mercedes had also used the hiatus wisely in improving their cars, to extend their dominance.